Miracle Girl Born With Her Heart Outside Her Body
On October 15, 2012, Audrina Cardenas was born with a rare congenital defect known as “ectopia cordis.” In this condition, part of the heart has formed outside of the chest. The birth defect occurs only in eight infants out of one million. Ectopia cordis is generally lethal: 90 percent of those with the condition are either born dead or die within three days.
Immediately after her birth, a team of surgeons whisked away Audrina to perform a life-saving open-heart surgery. During the six-hour-long procedure, the doctors operated on her chest cavity to make space for the part of her heart that was sticking out.
Audrina’s mother had learned of her daughter’s condition during her 16th week of pregnancy. After she decided to continue the pregnancy rather than terminate it, her doctor recommended her to the Texas Children’s Hospital, for the doctors there are known for their skill in treating children with birth defects.
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Audrina stayed at the Texas Children’s Hospital for three months to recover from her surgery. As Audrina does not have a breastbone, she has to wear a pink plastic vest over her chest to protect her heart. She celebrated her first birthday in October, 2013. At the time, doctors announced they were planning to perform the surgery to give her a sternum within the next few months.
During that critical first year, Audrina was gradually weaned off her c, but she had to stay on oxygen. She could crawl and began learning to walk. In December, 2014, she had a second heart surgery and was weaned off the oxygen, and she can now breathe on her own.
Audrina will need to be under a cardiologist’s care for the rest of her life. Her doctors are optimistic about her chances, however, for she does not have any other genetic conditions or birth defects that would weaken or stress her heart.